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Sensational grid for Porsche season openerPorsche Carrera Cup Australia: 2013 Clipsal 500 Preview

More entries, great drivers: Porsche Carrera Cup Australia is set for a sensational season, starting at this weekend’s Clipsal 500.

With 21 entries confirmed for the opening Carrera Cup round in Adelaide, the category finds itself in a much stronger position than it was in 12 months ago, where only 15 cars took to the grid at the first round.

With a field size almost 50 percent stronger, and with several high-profile names joining the championship, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia is set to host one of its most competitive and entertaining seasons to date.

“Over the off-season the interest in participating in Carrera Cup was tremendous, which is reflected in this great Porsche field, in both size and calibre, for the Clipsal 500,” said Porsche Cars Australia Motorsport Manager Jamey Blaikie.

“Not only will competition be tough at the front, but throughout the entire field. We have close to a 50/50 split between Professional Class and Elite Class drivers, with both championships shaping up to be ultra competitive.”

The competition will be fierce in the Elite Class, where dual class champion Max Twigg will be challenged by closing forces James Koundouris, Tony Bates, Marc Cini, Michael Loccisano, Shane Smollen and Stephen Grove, with newcomers James Bergmuller, Tony Walls and returnee Damien Flack all eager to join the current crop of Porsche racers.

Tony Bates, who finished third in the Elite Class in his debut season last year, is looking forward to challenging his Porsche rivals for the class crown.

“The Outright championship is shaping to be pretty competitive, but the fight for the Elite Class championship will be just as strong,” said Bates.

“Obviously I spent the first half of last year learning the car's capabilities. Then at Bathurst, the penny dropped and I started to catch the likes of Twigg and Koundouris. This year's aim will be to put seven successful rounds together and push for the Elite Class championship.”

Four-time Carrera Cup Australia champion Craig Baird headlines a list of strong contenders for the 2013 championship, which includes former V8 Supercar drivers Steven Richards, Warren Luff and Michael Patrizi, and up-and-coming racers Nick Percat, Shae Davies, Duvashen Padayachee, Matt Kingsley and Renee Gracie, who will become the first female to race in the Australian one-make championship.

Seasoned V8 Supercars endurance driver Warren Luff will be making his Carrera Cup Australia debut at the Adelaide event, and is looking forward to the challenge of racing against exception competition.

“Carrera Cup has been a great category for many years in Australia; it is a level playing field and has some top drivers. And with Craig Baird as the benchmark, I can’t wait to get racing,” said Luff.
“Without racing full-time I have missed the competition and the close, wheels-to-wheel action. I usually do the two V8 Supercars endurance races every year, but it will be great to be competing full time again.”

The start of the eighth Porsche Carrera Cup Australia season will commence this Thursday February 28 when the sports car category graces the Adelaide circuit for practice and qualifying.

The category will also hold one race on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – all broadcast live (or as live) on Seven.